China might provoke a crisis to take Taiwan’s smaller islands: US expert

It is not clear whether Xi Jinping is receiving rational advice about Taiwan: Easton

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China's Navy performing drills.

China's Navy performing drills. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Considering China’s recent aggressive moves, the communist country might try and provoke a crisis during which it would occupy Taiwan’s offshore islands, an expert in the United States told Indian media.

Taiwan counts two island groups, Kinmen and Matsu, within reach of the Chinese province of Fujian. They were bombed by communist forces as far as into the 1950s, the decade after the Kuomintang left China and moved to Taiwan.

However, Ian Easton of the Project 2049 Institute told India’s ANI that China might even start further afield, attacking Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba, in the South China Sea. “It’s already surrounded on three sides by massive military or civil-military facilities constructed on the many islands,” ANI quoted Easton.

Another possible target could be the Pratas Islands, also in the South China Sea but about 300 kilometers south of Hong Kong, or Kinmen or Matsu.

Easton told ANI “he could imagine China deliberately creating a crisis in the next few years in order to give an excuse to capture such islands.”

The expert also commented that in effect, China has already launched a blockade of Taiwan, with the ramping up of efforts to remove the island from the international scene as well as threats against airlines and other companies to not mention Taiwan as a separate nation on their websites.

Easton also interprets the moves by China’s President Xi Jinping (習近平) to extend his power as making an invasion of Taiwan more likely in the long run. It would not be rational for China to launch such an attempt in the near future, but it was difficult to tell whether Xi was receiving rational advice from his entourage, he told ANI.